If I get a penny every time I was asked if I really work (since I travel so much) or how I afford my trips I wouldn’t have to work to afford my trips! Every time I go somewhere, no matter if it’s a weekend trip to a neighbor country or two weeks long journey to a more exotic destination like China, South Africa or South America, the question pops up again, and again, and again! And to be honest I’m pretty bored with it by now but I patiently keep answering every person, trying to prove that yes, it’s possible to have a full time job and travel the world!
But then last week I got a comment on the blog, under a totally random post, from a person that I don’t know, who I’ve never talked to (even online) and who have never commented on my blog. Yet she found time in her (I assume) busy life to write this few words about me. I wish they were addressed to me but obviously they’re not, they’re more for you! So meet Karolina, a Polish woman who (most likely) lives in UK, at least that’s what her ip address said. Here’s what Karolina has to say:
“All looks nice and wise but I am sure she is sponsored by some organization/company /or………..It is impossible in Poland being Polish typical/normal worker 1st )to get so many day for holiday during the year .2nd) to have enough money for such journeys .Naked truth .Any way nice blog specially about Iran .
first of all I’m really impressed that, for the reason I cannot really understand, you’ve decided to write these few sentences about me and my life – both of which you have no idea about. And it’s funny how you seem to know everything better than me or people around me. With your comment not only you’ve made my day but you made some of my blogging friends laugh (and all of them just like me work full time and travel the world, do you have something to say about them too?). One of my good friends – Ibazela – was so impressed with your witty words that she has answered you on her blog, isn’t it an honor? Here you can read her post “How travel bloggers afford to travel” But to be fair I also need to thank you – with your amusing comment you finally motivated me to write this post, something I should have done ages ago! So, to make things clear, once and for all: yes, I do work full time; yes, I pay for my travels with my own money; no I’m not sponsored by any organization, company or these meaningful dots which I guess must mean some rich, disgusting guy. And here, specially for you and for everyone else who keeps asking the same question, is the (not so simple) answer how I manage to have a full time job and travel the world.
I’ve been working in the same company for over 7 years now. I have a regular, full time office job, the one that also is my passion (and that definitely helps dealing with the monotony of the every day life). I work in one of the biggest railway companies in Poland, dealing with train schedules and everything connected to this. When people hear what I do they usually start giggling but hey, someone has to do this job and that’s me (and my workmates). In Poland when you work full time you get 26 days off per year.. That’s actually a lot, over a month if you take it all at once! But together with weekends and holidays it gives us 141 free days each year, over 4 months that we can spend on traveling! Pretty impressive, huh? Of course it’s impossible to spend every single day off traveling but still it’s not as bad as it seems when people say they work full time. Just look at the big picture and don’t focus on these 26 days as it doesn’t give you the full image of your possibilities!
My days off are sacred to me, I do respect them more than anything! In these past 7 years I never took a day off for something else than traveling, never! I bet it’s hard to believe. If I need to run some errands (as we all do sometimes) I just take few hours off, never the whole day as it’d be just a waste! Also I never take an extra day for packing before the trip or taking a rest after the trip. I often start my travels straight after work (like two weeks ago before going to Riga, 10 minutes before my train to the airport I was still doing some changes in the train’s parameters – don’t ask ;)) or return from them to work – my workmates (in the whole company) are not surprised anymore when they see me with the backpack. I don’t mind going from the airport to work and I can easily switch into the working mood after spending a night at the airport in Yerevan, Tbilisi or any other exotic destination. Probably the craziest thing I’ve done so far was arriving to work after 2 days on the way (with maybe 5 hours sleep in total), from Iran to Warsaw via Doha, Berlin and Poznań. But I was fine! And after such a tiring journey I’m always hyperactive at work, trying to catch up with everything as soon as I can.
Another thing that not everyone can do is working extra hours. In past months there’s been just too much work to deal with and it’s impossible to do everything in only 8 hours. So I’m always the first one to stay and work longer as I have a reason for that and the work needs to be done anyway. We don’t get paid for over-hours but we can take them off, even the whole day. So I’m working really hard, sometimes it’s just too much and I feel dizzy and I can see mini trains running in front of my eyes but I never complain and do what I have to do. Partly because I need more days off for my travels, partly because I don’t want anyone at work telling me I do nothing but traveling and partly because I just enjoy it so very much.
I’m also lucky as every now and then my job requires going outside of the office and see how our trains run, how many people travel etc – basically how the schedule looks like in reality. And that’s another thing I really enjoy and I’m always up for! You will never hear me complaining when I need to get up at 3am to catch the first train to Pilawa, to travel to Skierniewice at 5am when it’s -20C outside, when I’m back at 11pm from Łowicz or when I need to spend 3 hours at freezing platform of Warszawa Wschodnia station, checking how full departing trains are. Never a single word of complain as I see it as opportunities to travel more! And that’s what the most important for me! Sometimes I manage to take as much as possible from these work trips, like when I have 4 hours between trains in Sierpc and I go to visit the amazing Museum of Masovian Countryside or when I have 7 hours in Gdańsk and can explore the local street art scene!
So, to sum it up, how I manage to have a full time job and travel the world: 141 days off per year is actually a lot, I spent every single day off for traveling, I often start/finish my trips at work, I work really hard, take every extra hours that I can and I never complain. When you have a clearly set goal – for me it’s traveling – all these things come easier! When you want something really badly and work hard for that you achieve it! These two rules can be my motto. I’m also really lucky as my boss also likes traveling so he understands my passion very well and he figured out that a happy employee is a better employee. Anyway, in 2014 I’ve spent 114 days traveling (both in Poland and abroad), this year up till today – mid September – it’s already 94.
Actually balancing work and travels isn’t that difficult. Try adding blogging to that and that’s when things get tricky! I started this blog for friends abroad who wanted to catch up with my travel stories. Shortly after more and more people I didn’t know started following my adventures and it was actually nice to know that I must have something interesting to say. Now, over 3 years after my first post, I can say that this blog was one of the best things that I’ve ever done, it brought so many amazing people to my life, so many opportunities, so many challenges and well, travels. It keeps me motivated for all the time, keeps me pushing forward and now I just can’t imagine my life without it.
But it’s not all butterflies, rainbows and unicorns. Only fellow travel bloggers know how much time it takes to run a decent blog. There’s always something to do: write a post, edit pictures, promote your work, answer emails (today, for the first time ever I’m all caught up with my mailbox!), work on various blog-related things… this list can keep going and going. But actually I know many travel bloggers who have full time jobs and we somehow manage to do everything and still have time for our families, friends and a good book or movie! I don’t think I know more organized people than working bloggers! We are always surrounded by never-ending “to do” list (I currently can see 3 of them around me), we don’t know what “boredom” means, our calendars are full for few weeks in advance. We are masters of planning and time management and in all this craziness we can get the most of our lives!
Anyway, back to Karolina’s comment and her wondering how I afford my travels. First of all I think it’s purely rude to ask him/her what he/she does with his/her own money, especially if that’s the person we don’t know. Would you ask a random person on the street how he/she afforded the nice jacket? I don’t think so! So, dear Karolina, what gives you the right to write to me, a person you don’t know, and conjecture about my income? But since the question (and some false accusations) has been already asked and I have nothing to hide here’s my answer: I work, full time, as I’ve already explained above. And as every job brings you money that’s how I get my income. Easy, right? I don’t know if you, dear Karolina, live and work in the UK or you’re there just temporarily, but assuming England is your base you might not know how the situation in Poland is. And let me tell you, it’s fine here, really! It’s not a third world country, most of us – people in our 20s and 30s, living in big cities – earn enough to survive, save some money and even have extra for traveling. Naked truth!
I find it really disturbing that someone is interested in such a private thing as a bank statement, and it doesn’t matter if I know this person or not. And it’s funny how it’s ok to party all the weekend (and spend tons of money), go on a shopping spree (and spend tons of money) yet a city break somewhere in Europe (that probably costs less that either partying or shopping) is such a controversial thing. I think some people, especially in Poland, still believe that traveling is a privilege. Well, it’s my money, earned from the hard work, and it’s my and only my business how I spent them! But since everyone seems to be so interested in my wallet I can tell you I earn less than the average in Poland and I still manage to have a decent life in Warsaw, help my parents financially (yes, I’m such a good daughter) and still have money for travels here and there. And there’s no secret to that. I don’t need much in my everyday life: I do grocery shopping always with the list, I never buy more than I need, I don’t spend money on unnecessary things, I don’t eat out very often (and when I do I try to keep it under 5€), I do go out with friends from time to time but never spend more than 10€, I don’t buy many clothes and when I do I usually go for a sale or second hand stores (like few days ago I bought a brand new, beautiful autumn coat for just 2€ ;)) and so on and so on. Really, nothing special, nothing revelatory. Each month after getting my salary I leave the amount I need for live on one account and the rest, that can be saved or spent (and that goes for traveling) on another account. Again, it’s all about good planning, achieving goals and priorities. I guess I should also mention that my job gives me a benefit that I can’t imagine my life without – a discounted train tickets in Poland and Europe. That definitely helps with my traveling around!
Then there’s this blog. I’m not gonna lie to you, it brings me some money every now and then. I try to keep it advertisements free here but thanks to the blog I got some really cool side projects going (like writing the article from one of the biggest Polish travel magazines, “Podróże”, or preparing a Warsaw section for Like a Local). I just have one rule – money I earn thanks to the blog can go for traveling only! Sometimes I partner up with some hostels or tour company for their complimentary services but the review you can read here are always 100% my honest opinion, don’t expect anything less from me! It’s also a great help with my travels and sometimes this way I can introduce you to some best accommodation or tour options too. So don’t hate me for that!
But the most important thing is: traveling doesn’t have to be expensive! How much you spend depends on your own standards. I, for example, don’t need much. I can easily stay in the hostel, eat the street food (or even do grocery shopping in the shop), walk around and skip some museums. And these days, with internet and all the mobile applications it’s really not difficult to find cheap restaurants, figure out when the entrance to local attractions is discounted or get a great deal on accommodation on transport. Take my last trip to Riga for example: I got my flight tickets well in advance (around 6 months), return for 50€, I found decent hotel for 16€/night (for a single room with a breakfast) and I didn’t pay more than 5€ for lunch. Just do the proper research and you can travel for much less than you think!
So, to finish this long answer to Karolina’s comment and the numerous questions that I get so often: it really is possible to have a full time job and travel the world, without having dubious sponsors. It just takes much more determination, organization, strong will and really hard work! And that’s the naked truth! What’s more I’m not even thinking of leaving it for neverendig travels. I honestly believe I have the best of two worlds now so why would I change it? And if you think I’m not the most trustworthy source you should take a look at blogs run by some of my best blogging friends – (all blogs are in Polish) Osmól, TroPiMy, Wojażer, Poszli-Pojechali, Kto podróżuje ten żyje dwa razy, Złota Proporcja, Łukasz Kędzierski or Kami Everywhere – who just like me have a full time jobs and travel the world! We are the walking examples that if you work hard for your dreams you achieve them!
Do you have any tricks to have a full time job and travel the world? Or maybe you think it’s impossible? Let’s discuss in the comments below!
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